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Amy Gates: Gould is a driving force for good in Amherst


Thursday, November 18, 2021

I’d like to speak truth to the misinformation swirling around our executive director of the Amherst Business Improvement District, Gabrielle Gould, some even claiming she’s hell-bent on destroying Amherst.

Gabrielle and her family chose to move here in January of 2019, soon after she was hired by the BID. A little more than year later, COVID hit. She and her team hit the ground running, coordinating the BID, the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Amherst Foundation (DAF), allocating $360,000 in grants — and obtaining and donating bulk personal protective equipment — to help our local businesses, and then helped them understand and apply for PPP forgivable loans.

Another $90,000 was raised through the Dinner Delights, and working with Family Outreach of Amherst she got assistance to families in need. According to state Rep. Mindy Domb, that work brought an additional $2.1 million to Amherst businesses. Gould’s tireless efforts not only saved much of downtown, but caught the attention of Gov. Charlie Baker, who asked her to join his Economic Assistance Coordinating Council.

She founded and is the executive director of the DAF, whose mission is bringing arts and culture to the heart of our downtown. All DAF projects are funded through private donations and grants. In progress is a new indoor performance space opening this winter, The Drake, programming jazz, classical, world, rock, folk, poetry slams, book readings, and stand-up comedy — all performed by top notch artists. Wanting to serve the local community, free under and over 21 open mic nights will be programmed as well.

All of our state reps and the executive director of the MA Cultural Council have seen the space and think it could be an economic game-changer for our area. Plans for a shell to be built on the Common are in the works — the designing, building, maintaining and programming all paid for by DAF and donated to the town. This means all performances — music, dance, plays — will be free to everyone.

None of this has happened before in Amherst. Gabrielle Gould is the positive driving force behind all of these things. We’re lucky to have her.

Amy Gates

Amherst

The writer is a board member of the Downtown Amherst Foundation.